My criminal background check is wrong, what can I do?

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In 2019, the National Consumer Law Center published a report about how errors on background checks harm employees and businesses. According to the report, Broken Records, 90% of employees and 94% of landlords use background screening companies[i]. Lawsuits have been filed against these companies because of the errors in these reports such as mixing up individuals with another person, including expunged or protected records (which they can’t), including incorrect case dispositions (the case was dismissed or employee found not guilty) or other misleading information[ii].

When you apply for a job and they ask for a background check make sure you monitor this process. If you are denied employment based on your criminal history, the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires that consumers are provided a copy of the report if one of the reasons they were not hired was based on information in the report. It only needs to be one of the reasons. If the consumer disputes this information the reporting agency must investigate the claim within 30 days. 

Background checks have affected employment and the housing needs of 70 million to 100 million Americans [iii]. If you receive an adverse notice after applying for housing or employment, CHECK THE REPORT!

 [i] See PERSIS YU & SHARON M. DIETRICH, NAT’L CONSUMER LAW CTR., BROKEN RECORDS: HOW ERRORS BY CRIMINAL BACKGROUND CHECKING COMPANIES HARM WORKERS AND BUSINESSES 7 (2012).

[ii] REBECCA VALLAS & SHARON DIETRICH, CENTER FOR AMERICAN PROGRESS, ONE STRIKE AND YOU’RE OUT, HOW WE CAN ELIMINATE BARRIERS TO ECONOMIC SECURITY AND MOBILITY FOR PEOPLE WITH CRIMINAL RECORDS 1 (2014)

[iii] CFPB, MARKET SNAPSHOT, supra note 4, at 3–4 (2018 survey found that 95% of employers surveyed conduct at least one type of background screening and that 94% of those employers include some form of criminal history check); See also Claire Ashley Saba, A Roadmap for Comprehensive Criminal Justice Reform to Employ Ex-Offenders: Beyond Title VII and Ban the Box, 56 AM. CRIM. L. REV. 547, 552 (2019) (about 92% of employers subject all or some candidates to criminal background checks); HR.COM & NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF PROFESSION BACKGROUND CHECK SCREENERS, NATIONAL SURVEY: EMPLOYERS UNIVERSALLY USING BACKGROUND CHECKS TO PROTECT EMPLOYEES, CUSTOMERS, AND THE PUBLIC 3, 7–8 (2017), (survey of 1,528 HR professionals; 96% of employers surveyed said organization conducts one or more types of background screening; 97% of respondents reported including some form of criminal history check).[iii]